Policy

Author's Guild To Amazon, 'Your Hypocrisy Is Breathtaking'

Amazon.com filed a brief Thursday opposing a settlement involving Google, authors and publishers over the search engine's efforts to digitize the world's books.

In its brief, Amazon says the agreement will enable Google to gouge consumers and stifle competition. The Author's Guild, one of the parties in a settlement with Google over books rights, is calling Amazon's brief opposing the agreement a case of "breathtaking hypocrisy." The Author's Guild and members of the publishing industry have all been fearful of Amazon's power in the book selling business and its dominance in the fledgling eBook world.

Other companies, including Microsoft and Yahoo, are expected to follow Amazon in filing briefs against the settlement. In anticipation of the opposition, Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin told NPR last week that he has been surprised at the "competitive pettiness." Brin says the companies are Google's competitors but, "they've never really lifted a finger with respect to scanning books. Microsoft abandoned all their efforts and even those efforts were started just because we launched our book search."

Brin says, "I think it's pretty petty over what I consider a noble cause."

Brin laid out his argument for it's nobility this week on All Things Considered.

Noble or not, Google started scanning books without asking permission from the authors and that is why it had to reach a settlement in the first place. So far, Google has scanned 10 million books.

The Justice Department has begun an anti-trust investigation of the agreement. It's expected to release findings later this month. U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin will hold hearings Oct. 7.

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